{Review Crew} David Nicholson

Can you believe it’s already time to think about Christmas? I can’t but yet I’m so excited. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. The best part of Christmas is reading wonderful Christmas books with my kids and seeing the wonder of Christ’s birth reflected in their faces. We were so excited to review If He Had Not Come which is a Christmas book from David Nicholson

Christmas Book Review

What is it?
David Nicholson is a retired teacher and a missionary. He discovered this story, originally by Nan Weeks, many years ago when his own children were young. He would read this story to them each Christmas and they would enjoy a time of discussion.

Now that his children are grown and the original story is no longer in print, David decided to resurrect the story. He had the story illustrated and reprinted to share with future generations.

If He Had Not Come is the story of a young boy named Bobby who is preparing to celebrate Christmas with his family. He goes to sleep that night and has a dream that he is in town and all the stores are open, people are working, churches are closed, and there are no more charitable organizations. At each location there is a sign that says, “If He had not come.” Bobby then realizes that he is seeing a glimpse of what the world would look like if Christ had not come to earth and Christmas were not celebrated. As Bobby goes home, he opens a Bible and finds the Old Testament but only blank pages where the New Testament should be. When he wakes up on Christmas he has a grateful heart for the love of Christ who came to earth and profoundly changed the world.

After the story are some discussion questions to help further explore the concept of what the world would be like if Christ had not been born. Some examples of the discussions questions are: “When you hear someone calling for you to get up on Christmas morning, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?” and “What would you find open or closed on Christmas Day in your town?”

The following page has additional discussion questions for a deeper discussion with corresponding Bible verses for each topic.

There is also a brief outline of the Gospel message.

This book is intended for children ages 6 and older.

Christmas Book Review

How did we use it?
This was a snuggle on the couch family time read aloud for the whole family. The book is short and there is an illustration on every two-page spread so it held the attention of my older crew (ages 3-8).

We read the book several times over the past few weeks. Each time we would ask some of the various discussion questions listed in the back of the book to enhance our reading time. We usually only discussed two of the questions during each of our reading times. 

We used the going deeper discussion questions with Curly and talked about why Jesus came to earth and how our lives would be different spiritually if Jesus had not come.

We used the Gospel message section to read through with all of our kids to remind them of the steps to salvation to help them become more confident in sharing those with others.

What did we think?
I have never discussed the concept of how our world and our lives would be different if Christ had not come and if there was no Christmas. The book helped us have a wonderful and deep discussion about the impact Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection has on our world today and on us as Christians. After each discussion we all felt so grateful and in awe of our Savior’s willingness to come to earth for us.

The book is relatively short and filled with beautiful pictures. My kids enjoyed looking at the pictures that depict a time in our nation’s past with factories in the city and older model cars. Looking through the book took us back in history and inspired a spirit of Christmas through the snowy scenes in the book.

In part of the story, the boy is trying to find a homeless shelter in order to help an older man. When he gets to the place where the shelter should be he is astonished to find that it is actually a gambling hall. The picture shows men with shot glasses, cigars, and playing cards. The text states that the men “swore” at Bobby when he asked if they could help his friend. While I appreciate that the book was trying to convey the stark contrast between a world with Christ and a world without Christ, I wasn’t thrilled to have the image of drinking and smoking as well as the reference to swearing in a book that I’m going to read to my young children. I think this message could be conveyed without the alcohol, cigars, and mention of swearing.

There is also another picture where Bobby is standing on a street corner trying to find the hospital. In the background is a very angry mother who is grabbing the arm of a screaming girl and trying to spank her. My kids found the picture of the angry woman and screaming girl to be somewhat upsetting. Again, the book is attempting to convey a world without Christ so I understand why it shows sin and sadness.

My wrap up!
While I was not thrilled with two of the pictures in this book, my children and I enjoyed this illustrated picture book. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions sparked by reading this book with my children and questioning how our lives would be different if Christ had not come to earth. It was a nice addition to our Christmas reading. 

More info….
A hardback copy of this book can be ordered for $18.95.

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